(Last updated: January 18, 2017.)
Up until now, Wi-Fi security cameras have been rather static, passive, boring affairs. You place the camera on a shelf or stick the product to wall and it will capture whatever passes in front of the wide-angle lens, pickup what's going on and let you talk to whomever may be within earshot of its microphone.
At CES, however, a bunch of clever Wi-Fi camera makers have attempted to make these security cameras less static, passive and boring, giving you more control over what they see and what they can do to keep you and your loved-ones safer.
Amaryllo: Take this Dutch smart camera maker for instance. No more AC cable that limits a camera's placement or batteries that you know will die just when you need to see what's going on. Instead, the Amaryllo is displaying the new iCamPRO Deluxe ($199.99, spring), equipped with an Edison base that can be screwed into any standard light socket such as into a table lamp or, even more appropriate for a security camera, a ceiling can socket. But doesn't screwing security cameras into a light socket limit placement even more than a AC outlet? Nope, because the iCamPRO Deluxe, available in either black or white, is one of several smart Wi-Fi cameras from the company with auto-tracking. Plus you can remotely control its swivel aim from a smartphone. Also on display in Amaryllo's booth is a prototype of its AC-powered Koova ($199, summer). The company claims it's the world's smallest auto-tracking Wi-Fi camera.
Blink: Okay, these wireless security cameras are stationary and battery powered. But Blink's cameras, funded through a Kickstarter campaign, are tiny, around half the height of a smartphone, and so can be unobtrusively set or stuck anywhere, and they're relatively cheap. Starting a couple of days ago, you can buy a single Blink motion-activated model with a sync module ($109), a multi-room/whole-home two-, three- , four or five-camera system ($229). All the cameras include programmable auto arm/disarm functions, night vision, LED lighting, a built-in microphone, a temperature sensor and an optional 105db alarm, and can send out motion video alerts. And the two AA batteries that power each one are rated to last more than a year. Up two two hours of your furtive footage can be stored in the cloud. (Check out GearBrain's full review of Blink at Blink Review: Excellent DIY/MIY Home Security Camera System.)
Kuna: Wi-Fi security cameras has one other limitation beyond movement and power. The device can only provide security once someone is inside your home. Kuna is, or are, a smart Wi-Fi camera and intercom (Craftsman, Traditional, Contemporary, $199) built into a series of fancy outdoor lighting sconces. Motion detectors detect people at your door and sends you an alert, then let's you see and/or communicate with visitors (welcome or not) via a live video feed to your smartphone. You also can control the sound and the light from the fixture or activate an alarm should your visitor prove to be nefarious. Kuna also is unveiling Toucan, a smart camera and software that you can add to any existing outdoor light. Toucan will be available mid-year on the Kuna site, through Amazon and via TV, catalog and other online retailers.
SensorSphere: All the new Wi-Fi security cameras we've discussed here offer something beyond the norm. But they're still pretty much stationary cameras. Our final two Wi-Fi cameras, though, are anything but immobile. SensorSphere is previewing its Wi-Fi robotic ball ($300) – that's right, a rolling ball, not unlike Star Wars' BB-8, equipped with a camera, microphone, speaker and environmental monitoring sensors. With its smartphone app, you can monitor what's happenin' at home via HD video and audio streaming, temperature, humidity, air quality and possible smoke conditions – unless your cat or dog decides the SensorSphere is actually a pricy plaything. Once the SensorSphere gets to consumers, hopefully by next year's holiday season, the company hopes it will be attractive to firefighters, police and hazmat teams as a remote monitoring tool and to real estate home inspectors and contractors as drone/robot to inspect crawlspaces, ducts and pipelines. To get a jump on all these possible customers, SensorSphere can be pre-ordered via Indiegogo at the end of this month. Or enter your email address on www.sensorsphere.net to get special offers and special pricing.
Tikteck: Instead of a ball, Tikteck has mounted a camera and a microphone to stream and capture video as well as still photos into a palm-sized (7.1 x 7.5 x 4.3 inches) Rover, a Wi-Fi-controllable car, available in white or black. The adorable vehicle can be manipulated via an iOS or Android app. Plus, Tikteck is equipped with four-wheel drive, 360-degree steering and a gyroscope with a camera than can be angled from 0 to 40 degrees. The device can be controlled if its within 100 feet from a Wi-Fi router for around two hours. If your Rover is running shy of juice, it can be steered onto a wireless charging pad for refueling – unless your cat or dog decides the Rover is actually a not-so pricy ($69.99) plaything.